Fire burns over 3 Northern California firefighters; no serious injuries

Sudhin Thanawala And Terry Collins / The Associated Press
August 12, 2014 12:30 AM

A helicopter drops retardant on an area on the northern end of the Lodge Complex Fire, near Leggett, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. Fires in far Northern California forest are threatening nearly 750 homes on Monday. (AP Photo/The Press Democrat, Christopher Chung)

SAN FRANCISCO - Three trapped firefighters had to deploy their personal fire shelters as a rapid wind shift sent a Northern California wildfire burning over their location Monday, authorities said. All three survived with no serious injuries.

The firefighters had created a predetermined safety zone earlier in the day and retreated there when the fire worsened about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Beaver Fire spokesman Corey Wilford said. Still, the flames burned over their location. A thunderstorm produced winds as high as 35 mph (56 kph), causing extreme fire behaviour.

Wilford said all firefighters in the area were withdrawing as the thunderstorm approached. All personnel were safe late Monday night, he said.

The three were not immediately identified. Wilford said he didn't know if they suffered any minor injuries.

The fire in Siskiyou County near Klamath River, California, has burned across nearly 40 square miles (104 square kilometres) and was reported 30 per cent contained.

The sheriff's office issued more mandatory evacuation notices Monday but Wilford did not immediately know how many homes were affected.

The Beaver Fire and a second Northern California blaze reportedly were threatening nearly 750 rural homes.

Meanwhile, crews were anticipating the possibility of more lightning strikes while battling a lightning-sparked wildfire in Mendocino County about 200 miles (320 kilometres) southwest of the Klamath blazes. The fire near Laytonville had burned through nearly 15 square miles (39 square kilometres) and was threatening nearly 60 structures. Mandatory evacuation orders remained in place.

Elsewhere in the West, rescuers escorted to safety 19 hikers trapped on Sunday by a wildfire atop Saddle Mountain State Park near Seaside, Oregon.

And in Idaho, firefighters made progress against the state's largest wildfire, which had burned 101 square miles on the Idaho side of the Snake River near the Oregon and Washington border. The fire was nearly 50 per cent contained, though crews were expecting triple-digit temperatures and gusty winds later in the week that could pose problems.


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